Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Krugman, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.: What’s the Problem?

This article directly addresses an implicit debate that I've been following. On one side, Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong, on the other, Niall Ferguson and others, including Nassim Taleb. The issue: cut back federal spending in fear of long-term debt (think Greece), or stimulate the economy to continue raising the us out of the economic doldrums and avoid a lost decade (think Japan). At this point, I side with Krugman, who is thinking (rightly, I believe) short-term. Long term, Ferguson and Taleb and the deficit hawks are right: too much debt is a bad thing. The bad guys: W. Bush and his cronies. He and his Congress ballooned the federal deficit, leaving the Obama administration much less room to do what is necessary in the way of deficit spending.

For history buffs, remember that FDR became deficit hawkish at the beginning of his second term and took the nation into a second down turn. It took WWII, with its unprecedented deficit spending, to lift us out of the Great Depression. Keynes tried to warn FDR, but to no avail. Are we in danger of repeating the same mistake?

Stanley Fish & Company: Whither Education?

Stanley Fish writes on the benefits of a "classical" education. By "classical", he does not mean exclusively concerned with a Latin & Greek language and civilization curriculum, but more an emphasis on basic subjects taught in a rigorous manner. He enlists recent writing by Martha Nussbaum (for whom I have very high regard), Diane Ravitch, and Leigh Bortins on the subject. I have a lot of sympathy for this perspective, but does it apply appropriately to all kids? On one hand, one would think not; however, it seems like this is more the curriculum of American schools in the first half of the 20th century, which I believe proved immensely successful. Also, too much seat time, especially in the early years, probably isn't such a good idea. I'm not sure, but the debate is an important one, as it seems that many find our education system still faltering in many places.

Incredibly Strong, Balanced & Flexible

As a three or so times a week yoga practitioner for about the last three or so years, I now have an even greater appreciation of challenges of strength, balance, and coordination demonstrated in these videos. We see it in gymnasts and acrobats as well as yogis. This Youtube video, like those of Damian Walters (2009) and (2010), makes me green with envy. I feel like I ought to get down and give 10 every time I see something like this. Amazing stuff.

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? A TED Talk

An interesting presentation by William Li @ TED. A theory of why diet can and does make a difference in helping prevent the diseases of civilization.